tv Your Business MSNBC October 8, 2016 2:30am-3:01am PDT
good morning. coming up on "your business," think your product is hard to market? this guy made the accordion cool. find out how he did it using youtube and social media. >> tv and movie star monica potter starts a small business selling local products to help her ohio town's economy. those stories plus what you need to do to prevent sexual harassment in your workplace. that's all coming up next on "your business."
hi, there. everyone, i'm j.j. ramberg, and welcome to your business. the show dedicated to helping your small business grow. moves aside, weird al, because there's a whole new generation playing the accordion. and a lot of that has to do with one small business owner and the videos he puts on youtube. he's doing all he can to make this old school instrument hip again. his efforts have people from all over the world flocking to his three-story accordion shop in philadelphia.
♪ it's a packed house at open mike night in a restaurant nearby philadelphia. ♪ but instead of tuning a guitar or running through vocal scales, these performers are making sure their accordions are ready for their moment in the spotlight. ♪ the accordion? it's an old-school sound that's finding a modern audience thanks to michael bolbott, founder of liberty bellows. >> i decided i was going to take a 19th century craft and try to bring it to the new millennium. >> in high school, michael discovered his dad's old accordion in the attic and he instantly fell in love. >> nothing really interested me until i picked up an accordion. >> but as you may imagine, finding support for his new
passion wasn't that easy. there were not many other enthusiasts around. >> really hard to get any information. i realized early on is that there's not a lot of accordion players out there, but there probably would be if they were easier to find and just there was more resources out there. >> that thought stuck with him. when he returned to philadelphia to go to business school, he launched a small side business from his apartment. >> i started earning money on the side by teaching and just doing very basic repairs. then starting a small inventory and next thing you know, i had a business, and there was a big demand. if anything, less supply of people doing it. a lot of people that know anything about accordion are retiring. >> so much demand, he was able to open a store in 2009, which he grew out of just three years later. today, liberty bellows has three stories of old accordions, new accordions, repairs, lessons. basically if you care about the accordion, liberty belloes is your happy place.
this is especially true for accordion aficionados who previously had nowhere to send their instruments when they needed tender loving care. >> until you worked on 100 accordions you don't have enough basic skills to tune one up. over time, we found that as we built up a reputation, that we were good at repairing things. >> that word of mouth got celebrities coming on by. >> bruce springsteen's accordion player got a couple from us. jenny conley from the debbists, the folks from flogging mollie. >> not only did michael want to create a place for accordion lovers like him, he wanted to show the uninitiated what the instrument is all about. >> we wanted people to find us easily, to drop in. they might have never thought about an accordion but when they see all the accordions, they think, maybe i should play it. >> i would always walk by. i was always interested in playing, and one day, i said, i'm going to walk in, and you know, see what this is about. >> michael has his sights set high. it's what liberty bellows is doing online that's getting international attention. they post videos of all their
instruments on youtube. >> instead of trying to get one big viral video, we said let's have a lot of little videos and push as much content out. since then, we had about 3,000 videos and millions of hits on our website and on youtube. i think that was the hardest thing for people when they buy a used instrument, is there's a lot of things that can go wrong. seeing a video and what it sounds like is really key in developing a trust with the customer that could be very far away, maybe in a different country. >> the videos bring peace of mind for purchasers of used instruments. but they also give customers access to brand-new accordions. ones they would have never been able to access otherwise. >> italy and germany, they do a great job building instruments and they have a lot of great craftsmen, but again, it's hard to find information about some of their models. they might have pictures. very few of them have videos. for that reason, a lot of times if you search for a certain
brand of accordion, often their website comes up first and ours is second. it's really a win/win for us. >> beyond the commerce, michael knows that the core of his business growth comes from nurturing a vibrant community of active players. >> just trying to get people to learn how to play that they can get to a point where they're comfortable, that they're enjoying it, and our thought is that, you know, if they keep making progress, they're going to keep buying accordians and accessories. >> that means providing lessons, which he does both online and in the store. ♪ >> you want to fill in the gaps and have an artist in residence now that is available to teach here or via skype or facetime. >> want to try that? >> and hosting events where students can show off their skills. ultimately, michael hopes by infusing new energy into this old instrument, the accordion experiences a renaissance. >> our whole goal of having the
community and having these open mikes and having an artist in residence for lessons all ties into the fact that we want people to see that accordion is still out there. it's alive and well. that there's people who use it in every kind of genre, every type of music. i don't think the accordion is going anywhere. i think it's something that, you know, it is an old craft but i think it will always have a place. we just want to continue to make the accordion great again. ♪ hollywood is actress monica potter's stomping ground, but her heart is in ohio. her love for her hometown is so much a part of who she is, so she decided to start her own small business that celebrates shopping local and tries to bring jobs back to the community she grew up in. she's acted alongside some of hollywood's biggest names like nicolas cage and morgan freeman,
and received widespread love as christina braverman in the tv show "parenthood." >> you just listen to the music. okay? >> but what you probably don't know about monica potter is that she's also a successful entrepreneur. >> i always had this business plan that i wanted to do something like paul newman. i love him so much. he's just one of my biggest inspirations aside from my dad, and he's from ohio, too. i met him once when we were downtown, a long, long time ago, and he just said to me, keep up the good work, kid. i was like, how does he know who i am? >> in 2012, she started monica potter home, an e-commerce site that features home goods and beauty essentials all made by local cleveland artisans and craftspeople, just like monica herself. >> growing up in cleveland, i saw how hard people work and how much they care about their city and their community. my dad was an inventor.
and my mom's a homemaker. i grew up learning how he thought, how he created, how he, you know, wanted to not only make great products but help people by giving jobs back. >> completely self-funded, for monica, this isn't just a side gig. it's a true passion project. >> i'm lucky and i'm grateful because i get to act, and then i get to use that cash, saying it bluntly, use the cash to put into this and create a business. i learned everything. i really did. i learned how to do it because no one is going to care about your business as much as you do. so i eat, i breathe, live, sleep, sometimes to a fault. >> with her name front and center on all the labels, monica makes sure each and every item is something that she wants to sell to her customers. >> i never wanted to attach a name to something that i didn't
put my blood, sweat, and tears into along with my team. people work hard for their money. i'm not going to sell them junk. i'm not going to make junk. if there's a bad batch of something, we throw it out. my standard is like would i give this to my mom or my kids? if the answer is no, then it goes out. >> thinking of her fans as family, led her to find new ways to interact with them, face-to-face. >> we were online, and people loved the stuff. then i love to connect with people. so i thought, this could be a great opportunity to have a destination location in garrettsville, ohio. where we have a store front. we have our production room, we have our shipping, our handling, our distribution. the store is an extension of my home, and my home is an extension of my store. there's no barrier, you know. >> with all the decisions she makes that are rooted in business savvy or trial and error, sometimes it's been about listening to her gut, that's
what ultimately led to her latest venture, opening up a second location in the arcade, a popular shopping destination in the center of downtown cleveland. >> being an actor has helped me tune in to, if i think too much, i make the wrong decisions. so it's a feeling. opening the arcade, it was sort of like everyone is like how are we going to do it? we can't do it? nobody wants to do it. then i went to sleep and woke up the next morning, i sat and a just took a deep breath and i said, no, we're going to do it. it's a completely different energy. this is our couny store. and then we have a city store. and then we have an online store. so we're able to reach many people. >> as the brand expands and reaches new customers, monica measures success in more than just the bottom line. it's equally about sharing monica's first love. her love for her hometown, cleveland.
>> all of the products that we make, the candles, it's all here. it's sourced here, made here. sometimes i have to be careful because you can get so caught up in the business part of it that i have been lately, you know, losing sight as to why we started this to begin with. and that was to bring jobs back home and hopefully expand and help other communities and cities. there's a real need for this, and i feel like people want to do this kind of thing and feel gratified and know that they're contributing somehow. and being proud of what they make. you are probably aware of the stories surrounding sexual harassment cases at major corporations like fox and apple, but a small business can also be brought down by not enforcing a stringent zero tolerance policy aimed at preventing a hostile work environment created by sexual harassment. david lewis is the founder, president, and ceo of operations incorporated, a human resources
outsourcing and consulting firm. good to see you. >> good to see you, too. >> you think about big corporations who have these very developed hr departments and still things are going wrong, and then think about the small businesses where everything is catch as catch can and you're trying to make sales, forget about worrying about this other stuff. what can you do as a small businessperson to make sure you don't end up in that position? >> it all starts with awareness and training. you need to make sure that the laws in place cover every business regardless of what size you have. then you have to tea a look and say, okay, do i have a policy out there, what expectly harassment is and what happens if it happens. >> what happened a lot in small companies is it's so collegiate. it's a small company. you all know each other. people cross the line, they don't. maybe you want to be the kind of company where it's okay to cross the line. how do you reconcile that with having a zero tolerance policy?
>> you can't. it's impossible. so you have to go ahead and you have to be sure that the moment that somebody in an environment where you have let it go comes forward and says i'm not comfortable with this kind of behavior, that the company immediately takes that opportunity to say okay, the days of us being more casual about this are over. now we need to go into mode where we investigate the issue, come down to some conclusions, take some type of action, and then adjust our culture accordingly because letting something like that go is going to translate into huge issues, both culturally and financially for any company regardless of size. >> you need to address it before it ever happens. just don't. don't have the kind -- just don'allow it in your company. >> listen, zertolerance policy i think is helpful, but a lot of organizations worry what that's going to do with their culture because the company has a certain dna and they don't want to bring big bad hr in being the killjoy for the party. a lot of companies will ease into this and try to find a middle ground. there is no middle ground with this issue, but again, i think i companies make a change to their
practice is only when someone comes back and says the line has been crossed, maybe for that person, maybe collectively, and then you move into that mode where you increase training, increase awareness, and make sure you follow all the steps in your policy. that's one of the big issues as well. >> right. because you could have a policy. it's easy to grab a policy off line and not follow it, and then it's meaningless. >> that's the killer. that's the one where you don't do as you say in terms of what your policies are. and so when you put something out there that says this is what's going to happen, this is how we're going to handle it, and then you don't, that's great fodder for the lawyer for the employee suing you. >> you need to take this seriously, and the minute somebody brings it up, you have to deal with it. >> there is no middle ground. there is no, don't take it so seriously. don't go ahead and be too concerned or be too sensitive. statements like that are the kind of things we read about in the newspaper about major lawsuits. >> really you need to have a culture of openness. you let your employees know, hey, if something makes you feel
uncomfortable, say something. you're not going to be punished. no one is going to look down on you. you've got to come take something, especially if you're in a small environment where maybe you don't want to bring down the hammer ahead of time so quickly. >> put your money where your mouth is. go ahead and make sure your employees see what you're describing as an open culture is an open culture in practice. >> right. exactly. all right. great. thank you so much. >> my pleasure. strong visuals are important for your small business's branding and marketing needs. but what if you don't have the design skills or the budget to hire someone full-time to create what you need? inc.com gives us a couple tools. to get the job done on the cheap. one, piktochart, start from templates or start from scratch. two, for those times you need great stock photos to make your presentation pop, het to pexels. they're free for commercial use and there's no attribution required.
three, flaticons offers more than 2,500 free icons to jazz up infographics and reports. if you can't find exactly what you're looking for, you can make your own. four, create an entire range of visuals using canva, offering templates for everything from an instagram post to your next event poster. five, when you really need a pro, check out 99designs, post a brief of what you need on the site and how much you're willing to pay for it. designers submit entries and you pick your favorite. the artist gets your prize money and you get full ownership of the winning design. today's elevator pitcher understands that we don't all have the time we need to get to the gym. sometimes we need to fit in that exercise whenever we can. and so she created a piece of equipment to help all of us. let's see if our panel of investors give her any resistance. alicia syrett is the founder and ceo of pantegrian capital.
monica metais the managing principle of seventh capital. >> hi, my name is michelle, and this is xe. a high-quality portable and very durable cross trainer. it weighs just ten pounds, but it packs a mighty punch. it's got 30 pounds of bidirectional resistance, so that allows you to do serious cardio and strength training anytime, anywhere you want. our patent pending approach allows you do do over 100 different workouts wherever and whenever you want. we are having some great success with people who refuse to let a shoulder or knee injury or pain set back their health. we are seeking our very first round of financing of $500,000, and that is to extend our opportunities into channels with physical therapists and also personal trainers. right now, we believe the exercise is medicine. by connecting with them, all integrated in with our mobile coaching application, we believe we can help more people connect
quality exercise to their everyday life at home, work, or on the go. for more information, visit xe.com. thank you so much. >> thank you very much. all right. here you guys go. two numbers. the first one is what do you think of the product, second what do you think of the pitch? and i actually have a piece of advice for you. traction. you and i were talking ahead of time, and i know you had a kick starter campaign that was incredibly successful, and you forgot to mention that here. i think investors always want to know what success you have seen before. now i have biased you, but i think you wrote your numbers down ahead of time. let's hear what you got. >> i gave you a five on the product. you gave a lot of information, but i don't know who you're targeting. i don't know where to buy it, and i don't know how much it costs. these are really critical details. on the pitch, i loved your delivery. i loved hearing it was patent pending, but i didn't get a sense for the milestones in the business as a whole. and i liked hearing about the
ask, but i just felt like it was a bit lacking. so overall, really good delivery, but i needed a bit more information. >> right, and you have that information. i know from our previous conversation. monica. >> i gave you a 9 and a 9 because i am your target audience. i see this and this fits into my life. i can't make it to the gym. i have a child, a husband, a very demanding business. for a lot of people could understand how it would function into our busy life. and that separates you from some
of the as seen on tv cheap things. this is high quality. >> good luck with everything. thank you so much. >> thanks for having me. >> thank you for your feedback. if you have a product or service and you want feedback just like you just saw from our elevator pitch panel, send an e-mail, "your business" at your. please include a short summary of what your company does, how much money you're trying to raise and what you're going to do with the money. we look forward to reading all of your pitches an see something of you here on the show. when we come back, how to convince a client your business will help, not hurt them. and why you should always be monitoring and updating your online profiles. will your business be ready when growth presents itself? american express open cards can help you take on a new job,
or fill a big order or expanyour office and take on whatev comes next. find outow american express cards and services can help prepare you for growth at open.com. how do i show that my business is additive instead of competitive? >> you know, that's such an excellent question is, especially as a new business quarterback you often find overlap between your business an a larger business you're pitching to. the best way is to identify
those differences between your business and the business that you're pitching to and accentuate those areas that are not overlapping, that add value to the larger businesses. so many of the larger businesses could use your expertise. you need to highlight those and pitch and present and work on those areas they're not experts at. >> the top two tips to help your small business grow. alicia and monica are back with us again. so good to see you both. i didn't get to say that earlier on. i love hearing your advice. let's start with you. >> my top tip is mind your online profile. all too often when i'm considering investing in an entrepreneur, i'm going online to get a better sense of them and you wouldn't believe how many times i find people writing really negative things, maybe something bad about an ex, or incendiary political commentary, whatever the case may be, that becomes a huge red flag. because the thing is, as an investor or potential customer, you have tons of options out
there. while you're free to post whatever you want, that may be turning people off and you may be losing business without even knowing it. >> the same way we think about our kids and how they might be interviewing for a job or trying to get into college, think about it the same way. >> all fair game. >> everything's out there once you put it public. okay, monica? >> my top tip is listen to music all the time to boost productivity. you know, there's something visceral about music. there's a response within the brain that goes back to cave man days and different types of music can help you be more productive in different types of tasks. when i need to focus when working on spreadsheets i listen to classical music. it gives me the focus of a laser. when i'm not feeling motivated, when i need to get a boost, something with a faster tempo, pop music, something with more than 120 beats per minute actually lifts the mood and gets you moving. put a sound track to your life and it will make you more productive. >> what song do you listen to
when you have to go present something? >> bombs over baghdad, outkast. that's my get in the zone music. my secret. >> that sounds good, i'll take that. >> i listen to classical music all the time. >> if you're having to go and present something, something to -- >> i don't hear it. it keeps me going. i feel productive and the time passes and all of a sudden i'm done with the project. >> right. got it. >> got it. this was so many years ago, but i was applying for some job, it was something that i was very nervous about and the song i kept listening to on the way, you know the song from "working girl" when she's going past the statue of liberty, carly simon. >> what's the song? ♪ let the river >> that was my song when i needed. maybe still is sometimes. all right, thank you both. thanks so much. >> thank you. juggling a small business, your personal life, and everything else that life throws at you can be exhausting, but
you just may be able to get some help thanks to these small business tool suggestions from our viewers. >> one app that we use at especially hair is sugarsync. it's basically traveling file system that allows you to sync cross users. we share documents back and forth with each other, upload documents, you can send those documents via e-mail to third parties or send links. it just makes for really efficient storage of any document you might have. >> the tool that i use on a daily basis many times a day is called smartnews. it's basically a news aggregation site. i'm able to read about breaking news and entrepreneur magazine, forbes inc., and just get the highlighted stories. >> one website that i frequently resource is daily worth.
daily worth has great tools for financial resources to better organizational tips when you're thinking about being a better professional, so i love daily worth. >> one website i use is called sa saidcodables. you can hire developers to do small projects for you, such as developing apps, making updates to your website or any type of technical platform you're looking to do. >> this week's your biz selfie comes from kenya brantley in newnan, georgia. she owns greenhouse mercantile. she is a major supporter of locally made products and her store carries accessories, jewelry, and clothing from local artisans. why don't you pick up your cell phone and take a selfie of you and your business and send to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet it to @msnbcyourbiz. no professional photos, please. we would like a selfie. please include your name, name
of your business, and your location. thank you so much for joining us today. here's one thing i want to highlight from today's show. we saw it in the elevator pitch. when you are pitching to people, make sure you put yourself in their shoes and think about what they'd like to hear and highlight those things in your elevator pitch. as i said to the pitcher before, show your traction. she had this amazing kick starter campaign and forgot to mention it. these are investors who want to know that there are people out there who are already interested in her product. so again, put yourself in their shoes and just think, if i were them, what would i like to know? now, we'd love to hear from you. if you have questions or comments about the show, send us an e-mail. to email@example.com. also, please visit our website. it's openforum.com/your business. we posted all of the segments from today's show, plus a whole lot more. and don't forget to connect with us on all of our digital and social media platforms, as well. we look forward to seeing you
or expand your office and take on whatever comes next. find out how american exprs cards and services can help prepare you for growth at open.com. i'm lawrence o'donnell in new york. this is our continuing live coverage of campaign crisis tonight for donald trump's campaign. "access hollywood" video of material recording donald trump saying things that was not used in the "access hollywood" show when the material was recorded in 2005 was released today. the "washington post" obtained that video. it was released. it showed donald trump saying things about women and his involvement with women that we have never heard from a presidential candidate and